Weavers threaten to go on strike if APTEX is wound up

The Hindu, 29th Sept.2000
By Our Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD, SEPT. 28. Weavers' organisations and the Andhra Pradesh Backward Classes' Welfare Association have threatened to go on an agitation if the Government winds up the Andhra Pradesh Textile Development Corporation (APTEX) as indicated by "closure" of all its four outlets in the State and "complete stoppage of business".

They urged the Chief Minister, Mr N. Chandrababu Naidu, to intervene and save the corporation which is serving the handloom weavers outside the purview of the cooperative sector, numbering about two lakh in the State, and all the estimated 50,000 powerloom weavers in terms of placing orders and selling the products. A large number of people belonging to 18 different backward classes, SCs and minorities who all are engaged in weaving, will be affected if the corporation is scrapped, they say.

At a press conference here on Thursday, it was pointed out by Mr R. Krishnaiah, president, AP Backward Classes Welfare Association, Mr T. Satyanarayana, secretary, AP Padmasali Sangham, Mr U. Narsaiah, president, AP State Powerlooms Welfare Association, Mr M. Sudhakar, secretary, BC Employees' Association, Mr Ch. Rajaiah, convener, Weavers' Association, and Mr S. Jagdish, secretary-general, AP Dalit Sena, that the APTEX was standing on its own legs without needing any yearly budgetary support from the Government as was the case with many other corporations and departments, and the fairplay required that it should be continued for the welfare of the weavers. The corporation was fulfilling in right earnest the social objectives for which it was set up in 1975 and the Government should not go by mere balance sheets while judging its performance, they contended.

These leaders alleged that the Government was out to close down the APTEX in fulfilment of a World Bank conditionality to get loans. They blamed the Government for pursuing a policy of dualism with respect to APTEX by stopping "business" and closing the four retail outlets, two at Hyderabad and one each at Ramagundam and Visakhapatnan, even while the Cabinet Sub- Committee, consisting of the Ministers for Home, Handlooms and Animal Husbandry, Messrs T. Devender Goud, P. Bhoomanna and N. Kristappa, was trying to look into the matter.

Mr Krishnaiah and others justified continuance of the corporation for the following reasons:

The accumulated losses of the corporation for the past 25 years was only Rs 55 lakhs and not Rs 4.35 crores as projected by the management. Its survival could be ensured by asking different departments such as Social Welfare, BC Welfare, Tribal Welfare, Panchayat Raj, Police, Fire Service and Medical and Health to stop their yearly purchases from outside going up to Rs 100 crores. There is no "surplus staff" now as 80 per cent of the employees had opted out under VRS. The corporation has assets worth Rs 6 crores. If the corporation is wound up, it may not get Rs 2.5 crores due from different sundry debtors as the litigation regarding this reached a crucial stage.

The weavers' leaders suggested that the Government should form self-help groups out of the weavers coming under the APTEX on the lines of DWCRA groups for monitoring production, collection and marketing of finished goods.

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